Saturday, October 9, 2010

Archaeological dig yields treasures in Columbia - News

A recent archaeological dig at Rotary Park (Lancaster County, PA) has set Columbia Borough's historical clock back a few thousand years, revealing an American Indian community dating to a time when pharaohs ruled Egypt and Stonehenge was under construction.

"We've found spear points dating back to 3000 B.C. and pottery that goes back to the 1300s," said Meg Schaefer, curator with the Wright's Ferry Mansion in Columbia, said Aug. 10. "We've even found evidence of what Natives were eating, including carbonized nut hulls and fish scales, which we can carbon date."

Started in May with the help of a $25,000 grant from the Philadelphia-based Wright-Cook Foundation, the dig was run by the Columbia-based nonprofit The Von Hess Foundation. It was overseen by Stephen Warfel, an archaeologist who retired from the State Museum of Pennsylvania in 2007 and whose work includes excavations at the Ephrata Cloister.

Whenever you're digging close to the Susquehanna River, you'd expect to find a concentration of native artifacts, but what we found in Rotary Park is exciting and unanticipated," Warfel said Aug. 10.

"We don't know if there was a settlement here. It could have been a seasonal encampment. But I think, clearly, more work needs to be done, since we now have evidence that there were people living in what is now Columbia all the way back to around 3500 B.C.," he said.

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